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President Toroama announces cabinet reshuffle and re-directs development focus for Finance and Mining Ministries

ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama announced a cabinet reshuffle, welcoming the swearing-in of Hon. Robin Wilson as the new Minister for Finance and Treasury in the Bougainville Executive Government.

President Toroama also revealed his assumption of the portfolio of the Minister for the Department of Mineral Energy Resources, previously held by Minister Wilson.

In a significant swearing-in ceremony held yesterday in Buka, President Toroama highlighted the importance of these changes in aligning his government’s vision with the Six Point Strategy.

He further acknowledged the important contributions of the outgoing Minister for Finance and Treasury, Hon. Mathias Salas, who successfully delivered three budgets for the ABG and oversaw the permanent appointment of the Department Secretary Mr. Johnny Auna.

"These changes are vital to ensure consistency in my vision for Bougainville's development and our independence readiness mission," President Toroama declared.

He emphasized that changes in cabinet were driven by the need to institute outcomes consistent with his government's development and independence policies.

President Toroama charged Minister Wilson with reforming administrative functions within the department and expanding its responsibilities to include financial analysis, tax management, risk management, and investment management, as some of the immediate tasks he must undertake as the new Minister.

“Minister Wilson, your first task in getting the Ministry and Department in order is to take control of the administrative functions of department. You will have the full support of the Presidency and the Bougainville Executive Council to introduce the changes that will ensure the department functions efficiently and in accordance with the vision of my government,” President Toroama stated.

President Toroama emphasized the urgent need to revitalize the Bougainville Tax Office, pushing for a policy change to keep tax collections within Bougainville rather than remitting them to the Internal Revenue Commission in Port Moresby.

In his new role as Minister for Mineral Energy Resources, President Toroama outlined his priorities, which include redeveloping the extractive industry and expanding the energy sector. He highlighted the establishment of the Bougainville Energy Office and the potential for renewable energy sources such as hydro and wind energy.

“It is time we look at alternative sources of renewable and clean energy to address the perennial energy crisis that we are facing today. We have the potential for hydro and wind energy generation. I will be looking at the possibility of reviving the hydro stations at Togarau and Ramazon and getting them online as soon as possible,” he said.

The President also addressed the longstanding issue of mining, acknowledging that despite regulation and exploration efforts, no mine had been opened since the establishment of the Mining Department.

He urged the department to focus on existing small-scale mining activities, emphasizing the potential of the Bougainville Refineries Limited to generate revenue, provide employment, and ensure quality control of gold production.

“We have a multi-million-kina industry where gold is mined and smelted by our own people and sold outside of Bougainville. The government currently owns a very new gold refinery, Bougainville Refineries Limited. The refinery gives us the opportunity to create our own gold bullion and generate revenue for the government.”

President Toroama called for innovation and alignment in governance and administrative structures and urged his ministers to create change that builds capacity and prepares Bougainville for independence.

“As President, I want us to move away from just managing the status quo in our government Ministries and Departments. We must strive to introduce innovative means to building our capacity in our governance and administrative structures.”  

“There must be alignment in our political and administrative structures with what the government wants and needs. Each Minister of the Bougainville Executive Council is charged with the responsibility of taking control of your department and creating change that builds capacity and preparing us for independence,” he said.

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